5 DIY Patio Shade Ideas

A sunshade in a backyard.
What You'll Need
Rope or sturdy twine
Wood posts
2x6 wood planks
Galvanized bolts, washers, and nuts
Heavy-duty wire
Large curtains
Eye hooks
Vine supports (old paneling, chicken wire, cabling, trampoline frame, etc.)
Rectangular-shaped fabric
Anchor containers
Tent stakes

Summer is a great time to relax and enjoy the outdoors, but not if you’re constantly fighting the elements. Take your outdoor living space to the next level by adding a canopy shade. Not only will this open the door for more entertainment and relaxation in the hot summer sun, but it will also add value to your property. Here are five easy ways you can shade your backyard patio.

1. Sail Shade

One of the simplest ways to create shade in your backyard is with a sail. Not only is this method quick and easy to set up, but it also won’t break your budget. All you need is a triangle-shaped piece of cloth or fabric and a few eyelets punched out in each corner. The only tricky part is hanging the sheet in the best location for optimal shade. You can use rope or sturdy twine to attach the sail to the house, poles, or even a nearby tree. You can even jazz up the poles with additional fabric to match existing décor.

2. Pergola Structure

A pergola in a seaside setting.

A pergola is the classic way to create a canopy shade in your backyard. For experienced DIYers, this is a project that you can knock out in a weekend and it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. To get started, you’ll need four wood posts, planks of 2x6 lumber (quantity depends on how big you want the pergola) for the girder and joists, and some galvanized bolts, washers, and nuts. Begin by digging holes for the four posts, creating a square. If you are worried about stability, permanently set the posts with some concrete. Working in one direction, connect the posts with the girder boards and then attach the joists perpendicular on top of the girders. If you want the classic pergola look, make an angle cut on both ends of each girder and joist.

You can complete the look by interweaving fabric between the joists or growing vines on top of the structure for shade.

3. String Cover

A backyard pergola with seating underneath it.

Another easy and inexpensive way to shade an outdoor space is using wire to create a pulley system. Simply string a large curtain (with grommets) through a few lines of heavy-duty wire and install the system above an outdoor space. Secure the wire with a few eye hooks placed on the side of the house. You can even attach a pull-string to the curtain to create the ultimate retractable roof at a fraction of the cost. Depending on the size of the patio, you may need multiple curtains for maximum coverage.

4. Vertical Gardens

A pergola with vines on the top.

Planting vertical gardens is an environmentally friendly way to create shade for a patio or outdoor space. You will need some kind of structure to hold the vines, but there are plenty of DIY options at your disposal. For the main structure of the vertical garden, you can use old paneling, chicken wire, cabling, or even an old trampoline frame to string the vines. Simply train the vines to grow across the structure and you’ll have a great canopy in no time. Another green alternative involves patio furniture with an umbrella. You can switch out the umbrella with a small tree, which will offer plenty of shade directly underneath.

5. Anchor Tent

An anchor tent is similar to a sail shade, but with a few minor adjustments. All you need to get started are four wooden poles, some strong rope, a rectangular-shaped fabric, and some anchor containers. For the anchors, you can use anything that can hold soil, including large pots or even old metal milk cans. Start by placing the poles inside the containers and filling them in with soil. Then anchor each pole with some tent stakes and rope. Attach the fabric corners to each pole with the rope and adjust as needed. To complete the project, plant some flowers of choice in the containers to help conceal the poles.